‘You can’t re­place Karl’

Packet & Times (Orillia) - - SPORTS - Cur­rently re­cov­er­ing af­ter surgery on his left foot, Se­na­tors’ de­fence­man Erik Karls­son says it could be an­other two to three weeks be­fore he starts skat­ing.

“So that when I start push­ing it, it’s not go­ing to snap or I’m not go­ing to have to do any re­pairs on it. Now, it’s just a mat­ter of me to get the scar and the skin to move prop­erly so it doesn’t keep split­ting open.”

Cau­tion is the op­er­a­tive word. While he raced to re­turn from his torn Achilles in 2013 in or­der to play in the play­offs, the goal is to re­turn to full health, no mat­ter how long that takes.

“I want to make sure this is some­thing that’s not go­ing to af­fect me, mov­ing for­ward in my ca­reer,” he said. “When­ever I’m 100%, I’m go­ing to come back and play, whether that’s in Oc­to­ber or Novem­ber.”

Karls­son ac­knowl­edges that life with an ar­ti­fi­cial ten­don in his foot takes plenty of get­ting used to. “It’s a weird feel­ing and I think the feel­ing is al­waysgo­ing­to­bethe­wayi­tis­now,”he said. “It’s never go­ing to feel the way it did be­fore. But then again, it’s my new nor­mal. It’s not some­thing I’m go­ing to be overly con­cerned with, (but) it’s safe to say my bas­ket­ball ca­reer is def­i­nitely over.”

Con­sid­er­ing the cir­cum­stances, Karls­son is up­beat. While the state of his left foot is un­known, he be­lieves hav­ing a quiet sum­mer was an ad­van­tage in al­low­ing his body to re­cov­ery.

His 2016-17 sea­son be­gan in early Septem­ber, while log­ging big min­utes for Swe­den at the World Cup of Hockey, and lasted un­til mid­night on May 25 when Pitts­burgh elim­i­nated the Se­na­tors in double over­time of Game 7 of the Eastern Con­fer­ence final.

“At the end of the year, I was pretty worn down,” he said. “This in­jury forced me to (slow down). Once I start to push it, (re­cov­ery) is go­ing to go fairly quickly. I feel rested. I feel fine. My body is ready to take a pound­ing.”

As Karls­son crosses his fingers — and when it’s safe to do so, crosses his legs — in pur­suit of join­ing the Se­na­tors’ lineup sooner rather than later, the door on the bench will open for oth­ers to play more.

Cer­tainly, rookie Thomas Chabot has the in­side track on a spot be­fore train­ing camp of­fi­cially opens with med­i­cals on Thurs­day.

“I think we have as­sets on (de­fence),” gen­eral man­ager Pierre Do­rion said. “If he’s out a week or two or three or when­ever he comes back, we’ll be fine.” We couldn’t see be­hind Do­rion’s back to see if he was cross­ing his fingers.

Goal­tender Craig Anderson, who is used to watch­ing Karls­son play half of ev­ery game in front of him, says the ad­di­tion of free agent Johnny Oduya should help.

“We’ve got very ca­pa­ble de­fence­men back there,” he said. “We picked up a Stan­ley Cup win­ner to play for us, as well. The sys­tem al­lows us to plug play­ers in and allow our team to have suc­cess even with­out our star player.”

Winger Bobby Ryan ac­knowl­edges that life with­out Karls­son will cre­ate new chal­lenges.

“There is no pos­i­tive to it, if you’re se­ri­ous about it,” he said. “It’s go­ing to give some­body an op­por­tu­nity to step up, maybe (Chabot) comes in and Johnny (Oduya) fills the void a lit­tle bit on the de­fen­sive side. You can’t re­place Karl. We’ve just got to try to get him as healthy as quickly as we can and go from there.” kwar­ren@post­media.com Twitter.com/ Ci­ti­zenkwar­ren

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